The West Virginia University football team knows if it wants to climb higher, it will have to pick up the pace this week.
WVU, 2-2, will face the highly powered offense of 11th-ranked Oklahoma State in Morgantown at noon today. The game will also be televised on ESPN.
"They appear to go fast," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "They try to get around 20 seconds for each play. We have a definitive plan on how we want to disrupt tempo. A lot of it is creating negative yardage plays. We try to match their tempo from a defensive standpoint."
Coach Dana Holgorsen said Oklahoma State is trying to play with the same tempo as Oregon.
"I need to get to terms with the tempo and force ourselves to play faster," he said. "Regardless of whether it looks good or not, I have to force ourselves to play faster, to get into a rhythm, which will help our defense out."
Defending against such a fast pace does present its challenges, WVU safety Karl Joseph said.
"I would say it's tougher mentally than physically, personally," he said. "Whether you make a play or not, you still have to run to the ball, because within 12 seconds, it is snapped again. We know that what you take in pre-snap reads have to come quicker."
The game will be an indication of how it can handle a quicker tempo, Holgorsen said, because an even faster pace will confront the Mountaineers the following week when they play at Baylor.
"If you think this week is fast, then next week at Baylor is even faster," he said.
Leading the Cowboys' offense is quarterback J.W. Walsh, whom Holgorsen referred to as "a coach's kid.
"J.W. Walsh has won a lot of football games," Holgorsen said. "He's savvy, he throws the ball well, he runs the ball well, and he makes it work."
Patterson called Walsh a combination of Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown and Oklahoma's Blake Bell.
"He has all of the intangibles," Patterson said. "He's has a proven record all the way back to high school. We have to keep him contained and try to make him one-dimensional."